Andrew Scheer, leader of the federal Conservatives, is promising to create a new pension system for veterans and clear the backlog of their benefits applications within two years, if he’s elected prime minister next month.

He called the current pension system messy. “The reality is, just saying thank you is not enough,” Scheer told a press scrum in Canoe Cove, Prince Edward Island on Sunday.

The Liberal’s overhauled benefits system, which took effect in April 2019, was criticized last February in a report from Yves Giroux, the parliamentary budget officer.

Read: Reimbursing benefits key unresolved issue for Veterans Affairs, says report card

Specifically, the report noted veterans with the most severe injuries would be worse off under the new system, even though the benefits were slightly more generous on average. “From the perspective of the veteran, virtually all clients would be better off if they received the benefits of the (pre-2006) Pension Act,” the report said.

It also noted the older system was more costly than the two iterations that followed, at about $50 billion in today’s dollars. The subsequent New Veterans Charter, implemented under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government cost $29 billion, while the latest Liberal system was projected to cost $32 billion, according to the PBO’s report.

Read: Veterans Affairs accused of skipping consultations on Pensions for Life

In examining Scheer’s latest pension proposal for veterans, the PBO estimated that bringing pension benefits for back up to where they were under the pre-2006 model, the Veterans Well-Being Act, would begin at a cost of $103 million. The following year, the cost would drop to $51 million and would slowly decrease each year to wind up at $48 million by 2028-29.

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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